Stepping out of my bubble

It has taken me too long to write this post but I had a lot of thoughts running through my head and wanted to try to organize them as much as I possibly could. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not a writer but I do like to document big moments in our lives.

A week ago Saturday we celebrated one year living in Costa Rica. We celebrated by each painting a rock that symbolizes how we feel about our first year. This idea was taken from Joshua where the Israelites set up stones to one day explain to their children and their grandchildren why they were set up. We placed them in our random rock corner of our house. We looked through pictures and talked about the highs and lows of the year.

I would say a year and about three months ago I started taking tiny steps outside the bubble that I’ve been in most of my life. When I say bubble, I don’t mean that necessary in a negative way it’s just all that I knew. My mom even said when I went to college that she felt like Searcy was kind of an extension of the bubble that I was already living in. I would not change anything about the way I was raised. I was taught how to be a good person. How to be kind to others and put God first in my life.

I use that term “bubble” because I have not gotten out of my comfort zone very much. I’ve made a few moves in my life… Paragould, Arkansas to Searcy, Arkansas. Then on to Little Rock after college and then to Memphis, Which is where I would consider my home. That’s where my children have lived most of their lives and where I started to kind of figure out my purpose.

When I look at my life…I observe that I have worked with children. I’ve worked in restaurants. I’ve done hair and now I am working with children again. I’ve only lived in the southern part of United States and visiting Costa Rica in 2016 was first time I’ve ever even left the country. Costa Rica is still the only other country I’ve been to. I have never liked change, except for when it comes to my hair 🙂 and I have pushed against it as much as possible. I think that is one thing about me that drives Nathan crazy. But when the decision came to move to Costa Rica I surprisingly jumped in without hesitation.

I think I’ve said this before but I was just needing some change from the cycle of being too busy, feeling frustrated and juggling everything but not feeling like I’m really doing anything with purpose. I think we all fall into that trap of being “busy” and feeling like our children have to be involved in everything but feeling like we are on a hamster wheel. I don’t think it’s worth it. I will have several disagree with me on that one but our lives have calmed down for the better and I’m very thankful.

Since moving to Costa Rica I’ve had a lot of time, sometimes too much, to reflect on what is important for us to be doing as a family. Service, is I think number one. And we could always do more of that and number two, I think, is just spending time together. I don’t think we would ever regret that we spent too much time together as a family. And by time, I mean simple stuff like playing games and going for walks. Exploring this beautiful country that we get to live in.

As my kids get older they want to spend more time on devices and while that is easy, I think we need to be much more purposeful to interact with one another. Right now school is wrapping up and our children are having a hard time saying goodbye to their friends. Some just for the summer and others they do not know when they will ever see them again. They are moving to other parts of the world. Costa Rica is a very transitional place and people come and go every couple of years. I think this is a good lesson for our children to learn now while they’re young. Learning to have to stay in touch with friends is a good lesson.

I would say that all of our minds have been opened over the last year. I think most of us went into this very anxious and afraid that we would not find close friends and not find a real purpose and I think we would all say that we are adjusting well. Benson has learned that he really enjoys playing the trumpet and is very dedicated to practicing. He’s formed a very close bond with his band teacher and looks up to him. Andi Sloane has found that she has got some very sweet friends that are loyal and helpful and her time of need. Blake has found that she loves playing soccer and has discovered a love for writing stories and reading. Nathan is really loving his coworkers and seems to really be thriving at work. And I feel like I’ve grown up so much over the last year. I’ve had to do a lot of my own which, to be honest, at the time I resented, but now I feel like it has really helped me. I really love teaching at the school and look forward to doing it again next year.

I’ve had several people ask me about how our Spanish is coming and I am sad to say that it’s slow…..I think the only way we are going to really learn Spanish and feel comfortable speaking is to be more immersed in it.  We are understanding more and more and that is encouraging. The kids and I are planning on doing a camp in a few weeks here in Costa Rica where will be fully immersed for the week.

We have made some really wonderful friends here too. From our church family to my “buddy family” friend from school that helped us get settled and help me out of my funk last summer to my Costa Rican friend, Diana, who by the way is still my friend even though I said her name wrong for the first six months of our friendship🤣 We meet with every other week for lunch, unless stuff comes up 🙂 to my sweet friend Ana, who also has precious children that my children have gotten close to. We’ve also made very good friends with our children’s friends parents. My friend, Sylvia, who has helped me in more ways than I can express and of course the teachers at the kids school. We have been very blessed.

In the next couple of months we will have family visiting from the states and we will also get to go home for some time and we will look forward to that so much. Even though we are really enjoying our time here we miss our family and friends terribly back home. We have really grown to appreciate those special people from home.

To end this post I want to keep it on the light side by listing some things that I’ve gotten used to here in Costa Rica, things that I’m starting to get used to in Costa Rica and lastly things I don’t think I will never get used to here in Costa Rica.

Things I’ve gotten used to:

Nothing being easy or clear-cut, groceries being very expensive, wonderful food, traffic, rain, communicating through WhatsApp, someone always being willing to help

Things I’m starting to get used to:

The humidity, the heat in my house, the bugs, cleaning the floors every day, communicating through Google translate, nothing being on time, having to pay to park almost everywhere, turnabouts at intersections instead of stoplights

Things I don’t think I’ll ever get used to: the way people drive, no parking, parking on the street, being afraid they’ll take my license plates for not parking correctly.

Do you see a theme here? I would say the most stressful thing that we deal with is driving and parking!

I’m sure there are a lot more things that fall into these categories. Thank you to those who have prayed for us and please continue the prayers. We look forward to seeing many of you over the summer.

One Whole Year

Today we celebrated our 1 year living in Costa Rica anniversary. I will have a post later with lots of rambling thoughts but for tonight I just have this to share. From the Bible…Joshua 4 Tonight we each painted a stone that we someday will talk with our children and their children about.

BTA (before the accident vacation post)

We now refer to time as before the accident and after the accident… BTA we were having a wonderful vacation at a new spot in Costa Rica. It is called “The Whale’s Tail.” You can see from the picture below that when the tide is low you can see the shape of the whales tail.We were staying at an amazing house with a view of the whales tale. It had a beautiful pool and we were with great company. The first couple days were uneventful and fun. We enjoyed going to the beach and getting to watch the tide go down and walk to the edge of the whales tail. It was really beautiful watching the two sides of the ocean meet.We really enjoyed spending time with our sweet friends the Menendez’s. It’s been great seeing my kids get to be the “big kids” and help out with their little ones. We’re hoping that the trauma of the next morning does not keep them from wanting to go on vacation with us again😬

The next morning we got up and went on a horseback ride as a family to a waterfall. We were able to see some wild Razorbacks there were probably about 30 of them. I wish I had taken pictures for my family, who are huge Razorback fans. Although, these Razorbacks looked nothing like the mascot. Right after this picture we were all super hot and already in our bathing suits so the kids couldn’t wait to jump in the pool. I think it was Sloane’s second jump into the pool where she stepped back one step too far and fell off into the ravine. You already know that story.

I just wanted to make sure and document how much fun we were having before all that happened. We will definitely go back, maybe not to the same house because we are all pretty traumatized but we will definitely go back to the whales tail. 🐳

Update on Sloane

So Sloane is almost 3 weeks post accident! She has for the most part been a real trooper. We were able to pretty much just stay home the first week after her accident to let her recover and get used to her crutches. She went back to school the following week and has done really well. She has some really sweet friends in her class that are helping her with her bags, water bottle, and the elevator.

They have a very unique school (at least to us) that is kind of an open door, open window, lots of walking kind of campus. So she has had to do a lot of walking. We ended up renting a wheelchair for getting across the campus because it was taking her so long. We go back to the doctor in less than two weeks and they will do another x-ray to see what’s next.

The pain has subsided for the most part but she does get very exhausted by the end of the day and has had a lot of emotional ups and downs. I apparently just do not understand what she’s going through and in turn cannot relate…. I hear this a lot! I guess I have prayed for patience recently because I’m definitely having to work on it:)

We have been playing a lot of games, reading sweet cards from friends back home, we went to a couple of movies and even went bowling a couple of times. We are tying to stay busy. We tried to take her swimming last weekend with her shower sleeve on but it ended up getting wet so that didn’t work out. She was very discouraged but we are very hopeful that she’ll be swimming again in a few weeks. I have been amazed at how much help Benson and Blake Leigh have been. They have just really stepped up for Sloane. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers and keep them coming.

The beach trip that didn’t go as planned….. ended with a trip via helicopter to the hospital in San Jose

Hello friends, this is that far the hardest post I’ve ever written. My family, along with another family, went to the beach this weekend to celebrate the start of a holiday week. Saturday morning started out normal. We went on a horseback riding tour at a waterfall. We had a lot of fun. But we were super hot so the first thing the kids wanted to do when we got back to the rental house was jump in the pool. The pool was beautiful and had a beautiful view. Pictured below from the day before.

you can see right below the sunset is a ledge. There was about a 7 to 8 foot drop and then just a huge ravine. We had made several comments the day before while lounging at the pool how terrible a fall from that ledge would be and we kept a very close eye on all five of the kids that were there. They never even got close to the ledge. As Sloane was gearing up to have a big jump into the pool Saturday morning she took one step too far backwards and fell.

As parents we would hope that we could shield our children from having accidents like this. Nathan was right there but things happen in just a split second that we have no control over. Yes, if we could do it again we would have people standing there making sure our child did not fall. But we can’t go back. Trust me, I have been kicking myself ever since this happened. It’s not helpful.

Luckily, Nathan’s fight or flight instinct kicked in and he literally jumped down and was able to grab her. This could have been so much worse. There were bushes and other plants there that I guess helped her fall. She landed hard on her left leg. It was obviously broken. The first hardest part was getting her out of the ravine and up to the level of the house. We had to work together as a team to make this happen. In our bathing suits we got in the car without having a clue where the nearest hospital was. Benson sat up front with Nathan and help him navigate. And I tried to keep Sloane’s leg steady in the backseat. Blake couldn’t stop screaming because she was so traumatized by what she saw. *** my family found it important that I add this note… While we were driving to the hospital Sloane was comforting me and Blake in our distress all the while her bone was about to come through her skin😩 Unfortunately the closest hospital was about 45 minutes away and we were up in the mountains so our car was the fastest way to get us there instead of calling an ambulance. In retrospect I think we made the right decision because I think it would’ve taken an ambulance far too long to get there.

We made it to the “hospital” which was in a marina in a strip mall kind of place. It was not marked at all and took us forever to figure out which entrance to go in. We kept trying to explain that we had an emergency but they didn’t seem to understand. Finally someone who spoke some English showed us where to go. The clinic was closing at that moment but stayed open just for us. They were able to x-ray her there and we knew immediately that we would be taken either via ambulance or helicopter to San Jose for treatment. It would have taken about 3 to 3 1/2 hours to get there via ambulance and we would have had to deal with traffic and bumpy roads and lots of curves. And we did not know at this point if she needed surgery or not, we just knew that she had a bad break.

The ambulance service came in to advise us and gave us the prices and time differences between the ambulance and the helicopter. We made the decision to go via helicopter. Only one parent could go and I was in no position to drive our other children back to San Jose so I rode with her. Luckily, our sweet friends, Joey and Julie Menendez came and got the other two kids from the clinic and drove them back to the rental house. Nathan later drove back and got the kids and all of our stuff to drive back to San Jose.

We had to take an ambulance to the airport and then the helicopter ride only took about 40 minutes. Then we took another ambulance to the hospital. The transitions from place to place with the hardest part. She was in so much pain. They had to get an IV in which took several tries because she was so dehydrated. They got some morphine in her system but by the time we made it to San Jose she started vomiting. She was laying flat so she was choking. It was very scary.

We were diligently praying the whole time and God put several wonderful people in our pathway. Not everyone spoke English but I could feel God’s presence in every conversation. We knew the instant that we saw her after she fell that we were so lucky. It really should have been a completely different situation. I can’t even explain what this ravine was like.

We finally made it to the hospital and again had excellent care. They had to cut her bathing suit off of her but I was so glad because she was covered in vomit and the bathing suit was still wet. It needed to go. They got her pretty cleaned up and the orthopedist came in, he spoke no English but a nurse was able to translate. He did not recommend surgery but he said if an adult had this injury that they be in the OR right now. Luckily she is a child who is still growing and she will heal quickly. We were so unbelievably relieved.

The next part was the hardest part for her of the day. They had to set the bone and put on the cast. They wouldn’t give her any pain reliever because she had thrown it up. Her foot was facing outward to begin with and they had to completely rotate it. As she was screaming in pain and I felt so helpless.

After they set it and put the cast on she had one more x-ray to make sure it was the right place and thank goodness it was. She was then able to rest a little bit. My sweet friend Diana came to the hospital and helped to translate our discharge instructions and get us home. She was a godsend! After getting home I still needed to get her cleaned up from the vomit and settled so she could rest. She is in a lot of pain but glad to be home.

Her cast goes all the way up to the top of her thigh so it is tricky to do much of anything. We ask for prayers specifically for strength for her, confidence that she can get through this, and patience for us. We are out of school this week which is a blessing. We are watching YouTube videos trying to learn how to use crutches. Nathan is headed now to find a wheelchair. The cast is longer than her other leg and she can’t bend her knee so we are working hard to figure out how to help her.

She is feeling very down and sad. It is very heartbreaking. She is usually such a confident strong little child. Yesterday was pretty terrible but I’m afraid the next couple of weeks may even be harder.

We know how lucky we are and we know we are not the only family who has ever had to go through this. But this is the first time WE HAVE had to go through it so we are taking it hour by hour. Please keep her in your prayers and we will try to keep everyone updated.

As traumatizing as everything was yesterday I did take a few pictures. We had always talked about wanting to see Costa Rica from above and this is not how we wanted to do it but we were reminded how beautiful this country is yesterday. And our new friend Sergio was there to give me the guided tour from the helicopter.

this picture is of the line of cars that was taking pictures of us getting on the helicopter. Even the ambulance service was taking selfies. I don’t think this happens very often here. this is a picture from above all of the palm trees. The picture below is of our Price mart which is like Sam’s. this is where our house and school is this is the Area where Nathan’s office is and the hospital here is Sloane finally resting at home last night.

Reality Check (aka my birthday)

So this terrible picture was taken on my birthday last week. To be honest, it was a very hard day. In this picture I’m sitting in McDonald’s… Yes, there is McDonald’s here in Costa Rica and it taste EXACTLY like the McDonald’s in the States. Do I normally eat McDonald’s? NO!! Yes, I do love it but I know it’s terrible for me. This is just an example of why my birthday this year was a little bit strange.

For those who know me pretty well, you know that I really LOVE my birthday. Who doesn’t? But I really get into it. I usually celebrate the whole month of April. I drag it out by my family celebrating with my parents in Arkansas, and Nathan’s parents in Memphis. And Easter is usually in there also so it’s kind of a big deal. Haha!

This year started out pretty normal. My sweet kids and husband had presents and a wonderful breakfast ready for me when I woke up. Not long after that my mom FaceTimed me. I have not been too homesick during this process but seeing my moms face triggered the tears that morning. I didn’t let her see me cry but I cried like a baby for a little bit afterwards. My poor family had to try to console me. I was OK just needed to cry.

The next part of the day was pretty normal as well, except for my Spanish class was two hours instead of one that day and towards the end I guess my face looked pretty confused and then I just broke down, right there in class, my poor Spanish teacher….. but luckily my friend, Julie, was feeling kind of the same way so we got to end class 🙂 In that moment I hated Spanish and I hated what I was learning (actually not learning because I didn’t understand anything…..preterit, preterit perfect, preterit imperfect, simple, complex😩) it’s a little overwhelming.

After Spanish I had some errands to run and didn’t want to go home and sit and think about missing friends and family so I went to, of all places… McDonald’s. I sat there and checked my Facebook page and responded to most of my birthday wishes.. It meant a lot to see all of that. It perked me up. I did cry off and on the rest of the day but I think I just needed it… Sometimes it actually feels good to get that out. That evening my sweet sloane made me this special cake. My mom makes the same cake for me every year and Sloane got the recipe from her and made it all by her self. It was delicious. A good reminder from home and also that I am very thankful to have my sweet little family here in Costa Rica

Saturday night I got to celebrate with Nathan at our favorite restaurant. My very sweet new friend Sylvia offered to keep all three of our kids and took them bowling and for ice cream. I feel very blessed and loved. If you’ll notice in the picture they thought my name was Yulianna. It will be a good joke for a while. I have a feeling that I will be a little more prepared for the feels that will come with this day next year…..on to 38!!

Perception VS. Reality

So before moving here I had kind of a perception of what it would be like and I know others did as well. So I just kind of wanted to do a funny post making fun of some of those perceptions and certainly not to complain but to show the reality of our life here.

* The perception pictures are actually of us doing cool things here:



Lots of sunburns!! Even with the best sunscreen. Being this close to the equator you have to be very careful. Luckily we have figured out how to combat this.

PERCEPTION (fun in the water)


Being a little bit silly here but this is about 30 minutes from our house.

PERCEPTION (road conditions)


This picture was taken when our brakes went out on the way DOWN from a volcano. Luckily my brother was with me, and with Nathan’s help back in San Jose, we were able to get a tow truck which was one of those “not speaking the language’ problems that we’ve had to deal with. Obviously we survived and so did our car. this is just a common back road there goes our car on the tow truck. We had to fit 10 of us in my Ford Explorer to go the hour back homeYou Just never know what you’ll see here.this is the driving course for the drivers license here The other day we had to do a simple tire change out because of a nail but forgot the driveway was on an incline and it rolled down the driveway. Nathan was a trooper and got it fixed. real road sign here this was my navigation trying to get down a busy street. If you can’t read it it says 16 minutes to go 890 m🤦🏼‍♀️



Nathan was literally throwing up off the boat for several hours. Finally, his patch started working and he was able to have a great time!

PERCEPTION (weather)


Rain, rain, and more rain… And not just a little mist or an all day sprinkle. I’m talking about downpours!!

I can’t even say how many times that the rain has ruined our plans but honestly we’ve ended up having fun almost every time…….. maybe not the times that I’m getting groceries.

PERCEPTION (animals should be outside or at lease not in the middle of the road or running into the house and dying😫)


these are normal sights in our house. We coexist with geckos 🦎 and all kinds of 🐜 🐛 🕷. I wake up to a dustpan full of dead bugs every morning. We are becoming less and less disturbed by the geckos and I am becoming thankful that they eat the bugs.

We also have a problem with birds running into our windows and dying or worse getting in the house 😲 We have to have to have nests removed oftendeathly poisonous snake in the water right where we were swimming. Normal street sign

PERCEPTION (inactive volcanoes)


this picture shows the ash in the air from our house this picture is from the volcano pictured first above just a couple months later.

PERCEPTION (that we would get mail)


we are still waiting on Christmas cards and birthday cards that were sent in January……AND we don’t even have a mailbox

PERCEPTION (absolutely no worries, we’re in paradise right?)


Mildew everywhere Everything is in Spanish. Dental hygienist attempting to talk to Sloane. I do realize that we signed up for this so not complaining just making note trying to find a movie to watch….in SpanishLiterally falling asleep in Spanish classwaiting in lines for things and we don’t even know what we’re doing! the daily battle with dust and volcanic ash. I have to clean the counters 3-4 times a day. Our windows and doors don’t seal so everything comes in.

PERCEPTION (happily leaving family and friends for a great adventure)

REALITY (missing family and friends terribly and having some very hard days)

Lots of FaceTiming but it’s not the same

these pictures were taken on Blake Leigh’s birthday. Her sweet friends called to say happy birthday This picture was taken on Sloanes birthday. Her precious friends got to school early to FaceTime with her before school AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…..we are making friends that will last a lifetime. And growing closer and closer as a family.

*not pictured because I’m terrible about taking pictures is Diana Rodriguez and I’m sure a lot of other special people.

New country new career….

When we first started talking about moving here I wondered what I would do with my spare time… I have worked full or part time most of my life so having idle time is not good for me. I thought about maybe finishing nursing school (I majored in nursing for the first couple of years at Harding and switched to child development about halfway through) or finding somewhere to volunteer. I never would’ve thought I would be teaching in the kids school.

There was a need for substitute teachers so I attended a workshop type event a the school. I think Nathan was actually pretty surprised that I took the initiative to do this. Turns out I was not qualified to earn an income here because of my restricted residency. We asked a lot of questions and found out that we could hire an attorney to form a company to where I can earn my own income. I started out just volunteering. In fact, I guess I still am just volunteering because we have not figured out yet how to use the invoice system here…… The attitude here is very relaxed… Some of you have heard of the “pura Vida” lifestyle here. No worries, it will happen when it happens. So I’m not concerned.

I’m glad to have a purpose. I’m not surprised that I had a desire to do this because I have always enjoyed working with children but I am surprised how excited I get with every new opportunity. Last month I worked in 4th grade. This month I worked eight days in second grade. Next month I’ll be substituting for the PE teacher for a week. And at the end of April I will be substituting in music. This just makes me laugh because I have no musical talent…..poor kids!!

Each opportunity has been a challenge I’ll admit. But I’m learning that through these “challenges” I am gaining more self-confidence and experience for the next assignment. The best part about being a substitute at the school is getting to see my kids interacting with their new friends. Luckily, my kids are all still at the ages where they like me being there. Although Benson will not acknowledge me most of the time, I know he’s glad I’m there. Sloane and Blake Leigh still like to eat lunch with me and give me big hugs.

I’m also enjoying getting to know the teachers. Many of them have lived all over the world and have very cool experiences to share. I think the other teachers were a little leery of me at first since I’m a parent but I’m starting to form some very good friendships. And the students are truly amazing. Many of them have lived in several different countries and know several different languages. It’s actually very intimidating. I met a little boy last week who is fluent in four languages. I told him that I am barely fluent in my first language, English, and I’m working on Spanish. Maybe I can get him to help me learn 🙂

I can definitely say that this is not what I expected to be doing with my time here but feel very blessed to have this opportunity. We are never too old to start a new career. I could see myself trying to pursue this more. Getting to be in one class for eight days really helped me get to know the kids and their learning styles. I also got to learn to be flexible with the lesson plans and make them my own. Watching the children grasp the concepts is worth all of the headache…most of the time. I have really got attached to the kids. Sometimes they even make me a sweet card or a goodbye note. One girl even told her parents that her substitute teacher talked like a cowboy so he had to come meet me.🤣

Tour Guides

We recently realized that we have become pretty good tour guides… Costa Rica is a wonderful vacation spot. Some friends from Memphis came last month and we really enjoyed showing them around. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted to because this is Costa Rican summer and some things were sold out but we really enjoying hosting and showing new people around our beloved country.

Of course Kadra has been here several times but her brother, Riley, visited for the first time in January. Kadra comes with our church group every summer and we were happy to get to spend a week with her in July. She brought her brother Riley along this January and we got to play hosts.

Sloane loves bringing her sign to the airport. She adds names every time someone new comes! They came in late on a Friday night. We were able to do a lot of cool things while they were in town. Saturday morning we got up early and went on the Starbucks coffee tour. That evening we had our church group over. They ended up having to rent a bus to bring everyone. I think there were about 75 people here including us. Kadra is close to everyone but she was excited to introduce her brother, Riley. Kadra and Riley were both huge helps in getting everything ready for the evening. And I definitely couldn’t have done it without them. The next day we went to a place called La Paz. In español La Paz translates to “the peace.” It is a waterfall garden and animal sanctuary. Unfortunately I didn’t take very many pictures but we had a great time seeing the beauty of this country.

They did some other activities with members of the church and I hope they enjoyed their visit. I look forward to doing this again😘

Christmas (a little late)

I realize that this kind of post is super boring. I can already feel my memory failing on me so I like to write things down.

The middle part of our time in The States included spending Christmas with our families in Arkansas.  My family is in Paragould and Nathan’s extended family meets every other year in or around Searcy.

We started out in Pargould and got to enjoy time with most our cousins, grandparents and Aunts and Uncles. The kids all got matching Christmas pajamas.  And were really good sports about taking pictures.  We played lots of football and ate wonderful food. After my brother and his crew left it was much too quiet;) but we did continue to have fun by going to the playground, playing cards, going to see a movie on Christmas eve and visiting on of our favorite places to eat in Paragould….kimono.  They even let Benson help with the food.

Santa came to see us in Paragould this year and the kids were very thankful that he knew where we were.  It was special to get to have Christmas with Grammy and Peepaw.  We still got to do our normal traditions like feeding the reindeer, doing our countdown calendar, leaving cookies and milk for Santa, and all three kids slept together on Christmas Eve. This years traditional big Christmas breakfast even included grinch pancakes made by Sloane. Benson was excited to get a keyboard for Christmas but it had to be left at home because it was too big.  He had to open a picture of it instead.  The other gifts had to be pretty compact to fit in the suitcases.  Packing was a little bit tricky but we made it work.

Christmas day we left to go back to Memphis for a few days.  We opened gifts with Grandpa, Nana, Gramps, and BJ and then we got to celebrate our 15th Wedding anniversary with a surprise overnight stay downtown.  We got to go to our favorite restaurant “Flight” and relax.  The next day we headed to Camp Tahkodah to meet up with the Cochran crew.  There was a change of plans this year.  We usually go to wyldewood but this year we went to Tahkodah and we think that we even liked it better.  We were able to spend a lot of time eating, hiking, playing kickball, eating, playing games and cards, and did I mention EATING??? There is always wonderful food with this crew. There were a few missing this year because of illness and they were definitely missed.  It is always great to see everyone. Our kids were so happy to see their “Bland” cousins.  It had been almost 7 months and they had grown!!

It was a wonderful Christmas. Nathan and I both talked about how we really appreciated our time with our family this year. Being away has helped us to really treasure our time with friends and family.

The last part of our time in the States we just really tried to wrap up the visit.  We tried to see lots of family and friends and have playdates and sleepovers.  We visited Graceland. Blake is a huge fan:) We went back to Paragould and spent more time with my parents and attended a funeral for a special family friend. I also lost my last living grandparent while we were there but I am so thankful that I got to spend some time with her in the end.

The last day we got to spend time with my brother and his sweet family. We feel like there is never enough time with them. The kids are all best of friends and pick up where they left off. We will be back in June and I know that will be here before we know it!